When I was a kid, my parents had a dude horse business. We had a small stable in Ouray, Colorado for summer riders, and then in October, we would take the horses to Phoenix, Arizona, for the winter season at a resort.
We hauled the horses in a two-ton truck, nose to tail, ten at a time. To get to Phoenix, we had to travel over a treacherous two-lane mountain pass. I always sat by the passenger window, my mom and two sisters to my left. Dad driving, of course.
I was, and still am, terrified of heights, and the drop off to my right, inches from the highway always gave me the shakes. That part of the road seemed endless back then, and even today is about forty minutes of terror. A sheer drop-off with nothing but air between a vehicle and the bottom of the canyon.
We didn't celebrate Christmas when I was a kid. We didn't have tree. Or turkey. Or stockings. We were poor, and my parents just don't spend a lot of time worrying about holidays. For three little girls growing surrounded by a very affluent neighborhood, this was sometimes tough.
This year, for some reason I can't remember, we had to take some horses to Colorado from Arizona. My dad decided on Christmas Eve for the trip. We set out from Phoenix, hitting the Lizard Head pass late, close to Midnight.
As we neared the dreaded pass, I began to sweat, to breathe heavily. My dad can do anything, and I knew he could drive that pass in his sleep, but it still scared me. As we began to inch over the highway, I realized we were on a sheet of glassy ice.
And the truck, filled with ten heavy horses, began to slide. Toward the edge, for the cliff's edge. To certain death for my mom and dad and my two little sisters. And me, too.
Dad tapped the brakes, guided the truck away from the danger. That big truck spun sideways, my door and the racks screaming against the side of the red cliffs. The tire fell into the ditch on the safe side of the road, tipping the horses. We slid for what seemed forever.
But we stopped. Alive. Scared to death.
We all piled out on shaky legs. Praised God to be alive.
For some reason, my mom asked the time.
One minute after midnight. Christmas.
I have no writing analogy here, other than Christmas miracles occur all the time.